While I have to admit to being simultaneously over and underwhelmed by Photokina, one really fun thing happened. Bill Frakes and I did kind of a Penn and Teller, Mutt and Jeff, Harry and Sally…..no, wait a minute……kind of thing with the iPad, the new must have, go to, touch screen thingamawhooziebopper that promises to change everything. I mean, it’s so cool, even I have one. (Gift!)
What’s not to like about a device that makes all our pictures look snappy and great, even when they’re (at least occasionally) a bunch of highly processed turds?
Technology aside, the fun thing about the week was hanging with Bill, and then doing this first ever, ballyhooed, much anticipated, cast of thousands side by side interview on the Ipad with him, done at the behest of the Manfrotto School of Excellence. What was even cooler was that we did the interviews at separate times, and both of us, when asked about favorite shooters, and who we looked up to when first taking a camera in hand, our answer came back the same–W. Eugene Smith.
Hanging in this biz for a long time gives lots of stuff to you, one those things being friends and colleagues. I have known Bill for many years, first as a premier newspaper shooter out of Florida, and then, for a long time, one of the cornerstones of Sports Illustrated’s photo operation. He is the quintessential road warrior, logging so many miles every year, he makes me look like a shut in. And here’s the thing: In an age when making a good or even great snap or two seems deceptively easy, Bill defines what it means to be a pro. That means he hits it, and hits it hard every time out. The amount of grief and blockage he’s gotta drill through on every job is daunting. Logistics, shipping, credentials, access, time, weather, prima donna athletes, over controlling PR folks, red face coaches–all can conspire against the shooter and make every job feel like storming the gates of Mordor.
Then, after all that exhaustion, by the way, you gotta shoot some pictures. Which he does, in astonishing and defining fashion, time in, time out. He’s shot more SI covers than I can count, and in many ways re-defined, or even invented all over, how to cover major events. I mean, he’s terrific moving and shooting the sidelines, which is a lot of what sports guys need to do. But, when it comes to the obsessive determination it takes to run 60 to 70 remote cameras at the finish line of the Kentucky Derby just to get that split second, winner by a nose picture, he takes a back seat to no one on the planet.
And then, given the love of his craft, and drive to excel, he continues to do it, year after year, even after the magazine, given limitations of space, and occasionally editorial vision, use only one frame, or, sometimes, none at all.
Which is why, wisely, he is in the forefront of the video DSLR surge, and using multi-media on the web to tell stories with lots of pictures and sound, and not simply be constrained by paper and ink. Check out his website…..
In Tampa….Kelby Tour stop…should be a blast…..more tk…..